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Senate inquiry proceeds with senior cops testifying Print E-mail
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Thursday, 20 July 2017 00:00

Police Commissioner Allen Whylie and the retired police officer, Julio Valdez were called to testify before the most recent Senate hearing on Immigration. Members of the Senate Select Committee were trying to find out how serious the police department is treating the irregularities that have been revealed in the Auditor General’s reports on Immigration.

The first witness of the day was Julio Valdez, who retired with the rank of Superintendent of police in 2014. At that time, he was the deputy to Assistant Police Commissioner Russell Blackett, who held the post as the Commander of the Department’s National Criminal Investigations Branch.

Valdez testified before the Senate that back in October 2013, he was instructed to commence an investigation into the breach of the Immigration Department. Valdez was tasked to find out how the attorney and failed PUP politician, Arthur Saldivar, ended up with a number of files that belongs in the care of the Immigration Department. Valdez said he investigated how government property left the Department’s Belmopan office and ended up in Saldivar’s hands.

The retired officer said that he was never able to conclusively find out who took those files out and gave them to a civilian. He said that while investigating, he began inspecting the files, and started finding irregularities. Several of the applicants for Belizean nationality, according to Valdez, did not qualify, because they arrived in Belize only a month before they were granted citizenship. In several instances, the officer reportedly found that the applicants were recycling addresses all over the country, and some of them were even made up. He also found that the immigration stamps for some of these applicants were forged to look like they were in Belize for the required number of years.

He said that a few months into his investigation, he was told to focus his inquiry back on how the files left the department and were handed over to Arthur Saldivar. The Senate tried to get him to reveal who gave him these instructions, but he “refused to answer, due to legal ramifications”.

In the afternoon session of the hearing, Police Commissioner Allen Whylie was called to testify, and he insisted that he did not try to block Valdez from doing his job. He said that he encouraged the investigator to get to the bottom of these questionable Belizean nationality applications. He said that contrary to the PUP’s smear campaign against him at the time, he never got in the way of proper investigations. When the Senators challenged him, he insisted that he didn’t and if he hears of anyone accusing him publicly, he will sue that person for defamation of character.

The Senate also challenged Whylie in an extended conversation about his decision to delay a police investigation into the Immigration Department. On several occasions, he patiently explained to the Committee that he was seeking to put the police department’s resources to other uses while the Auditor General conducted her investigation. He made the point that he did not want to direct that a parallel investigation be commenced because it would be counter-productive.

The PUP Senators, who are out to get as much political mileage as they can, refused to accept his very reasonable explanation. He committed that as soon as the Senate Select Committee is done with their investigation, and produces a report, whatever recommendations made that the police must act on, it will be done.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 July 2017 13:50